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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old April 10th, 2005, 04:46 Thread Starter
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USA national team thread

Greg Ryan was hired Friday as coach of the U.S. women's soccer team, nearly two months after getting the job on an interim basis following the resignation of April Heinrichs.

Ryan, 48, was an assistant under Heinrichs, who coached the team to the 2004 Olympic gold medal but failed to win the 2003 Women's World Cup. He coached the team to this year's title in the Algarve Cup, one of the most prestigious tournaments in women's soccer.

"We are extremely confident in his ability to lead the team into the next Women's World Cup," U.S. Soccer Federation president Bob Contiguglia said. "His dedication and passion for coaching is unquestioned, and his knowledge of the women's game in the United States and internationally is tremendous."

- AP
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old April 17th, 2005, 02:01
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Thanks for the news, Jeff. Let's hope Ryan will be as good as, if not better, than April Heinrichs.

In the interim, here's an article on another USA regular, Christie Welsh.


Christie Welsh, left, is part of the United States national team preparing for the 2007 World Cup in China.
Photo: Paulo Duarte/Associated Press


American Among Friends in France
by Jack Bell - source: nytimes. com

Published: April 10, 2005

When Christie Welsh was a youngster, her father accidentally entered her in a beauty pageant, believing he had signed her up to play baseball in the Little Miss Little League.

"They gave me No. 13 and my mom kept telling me it was really bad luck," Welsh said on her Web site. "I ended up winning this beauty pageant thing, and from that point on, I always wanted to wear No. 13."

Until now, that is. In her new job playing for Olympique Lyonnais in France, Welsh "wears whatever jersey they give me because they just sort of toss them out," she said.

As a junior at Penn State in 2001, Welsh, a striker from Massapequa Park, N.Y., won the Hermann Trophy as player of the year in women's college soccer. She also played in the defunct Women's United Soccer Association for her hometown New York Power. She has parachuted in and out of the United States national team program the past couple of years.

In landing softly in a field of clover last month, Welsh scored five goals and led the United States to its third straight championship at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. She is part of a changing of the guard that is likely to transform the national team as it prepares for the 2007 World Cup in China without a domestic professional league as a backstop.

On Friday, Greg Ryan, who picked Welsh for the team when he coached the United States in the Algarve, was named the coach of the women's national team.

"Training in Lyon definitely helped my performance in Portugal," Welsh said recently in a telephone interview from France. "It has been especially nice to have the other American girls here so we can all do things together. Our practices with the team have been filled with a lot of playing, which I think has only benefited all of us."

The absence of a women's professional league in the United States, and the unlikely prospects for resuscitating the W.U.S.A., have sent American players to Germany, Sweden, England and France. Lyon engineered a package deal in December, signing Welsh, goalkeeper Hope Solo, defender Danielle Slaton and midfielders Lorrie Fair and Aly Wagner. Last year, Welsh and Solo played for different teams in Sweden.

Their six-month contracts, which pay about $30,000 through the end of the season, include housing and two cars for the five women. They live in a residential hotel within walking distance of Lyon's stadium and first-class training facilities.

The men's team from Lyon, a city in eastern France, is on track to win its fourth straight title in the country's top division and has advanced to the quarterfinals of the European Champions League. The Lyon women are unlikely to win the French title this season, but the city is committed to building a top women's team as continental club competitions become more important in Europe.

Last summer, Welsh was one of the last players cut from the United States Olympic team by April Heinrichs, the former national team coach. The team went on to win the gold medal in Athens. (Welsh was also one of the final cuts in 2000, when the United States won a silver medal in Sydney, Australia.)

On the long drive home from tryouts in California, Welsh received an offer she couldn't refuse.

"I was heartbroken," Welsh, 24, said. "I thought I had played the very best I could. It was very hard. On the way home I got a call about Sweden. My coach from Penn State once asked me about playing overseas, and I said that I didn't think that's me. But when I got the call, I decided I was ready for something new."

For many players - first men, now women - the notion of going to Europe to play soccer has been like the Holy Grail, confirmation that they have made it in the world's sport. But leaving home, friends, family and familiarity may not be for everyone. Welsh admits that she has struggled with the language and a different approach to the game at Lyon.

"You can look at it two ways: that we are being forced to go overseas to play soccer, but then at the same time it is great, a privilege to play soccer in Europe, that we are wanted," Welsh said.

"I am glad to have this opportunity, but I would love and hope that something happens with the league at home so I don't have to keep uprooting my life to keep doing this.

She added: "In Sweden, English is like their second language. As Americans, it's hard for us to come over here. We're used to having a set schedule and set plans. Here things seem to be much more spur of the moment. That's O.K., but you have to be ready for it. Things are slower. Things happen, but only when they sort of get around to it."

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old April 17th, 2005, 17:06 Thread Starter
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Thanks for that, Bonita!

Maybe Christie can help Olympique climb out of third place to challenge Montpellier and Juvisy for the title.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old April 20th, 2005, 12:42
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Thanks Bonita, interesting. glad she went for soccer instead of beauty queen...
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old May 8th, 2005, 06:11 Thread Starter
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Excerpt from interview with coach Greg Ryan, April 25:

The women's game is evolving so quickly, it's off the charts. All aspects of the game are developing. We are seeing teams with wonderful technical ability like China, Brazil, Germany and Japan. The game is getting more and more tactically sophisticated. Brazil are beginning to play a 3-4-3 high pressure game, and more teams are changing their formations to suit the new levels of talent coming through. It's a very exciting time in the women's game. Now you can see a little bit of everything out there. Creative players like Marta (of Brazil) are changing the game for the better. The game is also becoming more physical…and in a good way.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old May 25th, 2005, 23:16 Thread Starter
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Ryan's debut match will be a friendly against Canada on June 26 at Virginia Beach, Virginia. Live TV coverage on ESPN2.

Last edited by Jeff; June 22nd, 2005 at 02:56.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old June 1st, 2005, 01:29 Thread Starter
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Calling for reinforcements?

Milbrett Invited Back to U.S. Soccer Team
By Joseph White, AP Sports Writer

U.S. soccer star Tiffeny Milbrett has been asked to rejoin the women's national team after a 19-month absence that began because of disagreements with former coach April Heinrichs.

Milbrett, one of the team's career scoring leaders, said the invitation came in an e-mail she recently received from new coach Greg Ryan while she was playing in a league in Sweden.

"Completely out of the blue," Milbrett told The Associated Press. "I looked at that e-mail, I was stunned for 10 minutes."

Milbrett said Monday she has been invited to the camp beginning June 19 in preparation for the U.S. team's next game, an exhibition against Canada on June 26 at Virginia Beach, Va.

Milbrett has scored 99 goals in 199 international appearances, needing one more of each to become the fourth U.S. women's player with 100 goals and the fifth with 200 caps. Her last game was an exhibition against Mexico on Nov. 2, 2003, shortly after the World Cup.

Milbrett then left the team, saying her creative playing style and personality were stifled by Heinrichs' disciplined game plans and structured schedule of meetings, dinners and video sessions. Milbrett had surgery to repair a nagging knee injury, then watched on television as the U.S. team won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, the final competitive appearance for longtime teammates Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett.

"There was definitely a little hole there," Milbrett said, "because as a top-level, elite athlete, that's what you train your whole life for, especially as an American. To have an opportunity like the Olympics slip away, that was hard."

Nevertheless, Milbrett said she doesn't regret her decision to leave. Her chance to return came when Heinrichs resigned as coach Jan. 15 and was replaced by assistant coach Ryan. Milbrett said she has spoken with Ryan on the phone, and that he indicated she would have more freedom on the field than she did under Heinrichs.

"That was something it was important for me to talk about," said Milbrett, who returned to the United States this weekend after two months in Sweden. "It was a step forward, feeling like as a player I can make decisions out there without fearing the repercussions of making a mistake."
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old June 22nd, 2005, 02:57 Thread Starter
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More friendlies scheduled (all live on ESPN2):

July 10, 2005 USA v. Ukraine at University of Portland, Oregon
(RESULT: 7-0 for the USA)

July 24, 2005 USA v. Iceland at Carson, California

Last edited by Jeff; July 16th, 2005 at 19:40.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old June 26th, 2005, 04:46 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff
Ryan's debut match will be a friendly against Canada on June 26 at Virginia Beach, Virginia. Live TV coverage on ESPN2.
The match is at 3 pm EDT (1900 UT). If you can't watch on ESPN2, you can follow on the Ussoccer.com Match Tracker.

Update: final score was 2-0 for the USA.

Last edited by Jeff; June 27th, 2005 at 00:54.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old June 28th, 2005, 18:05
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Here's an si.com article about Ryan's decision not to invite Brandi Chastain to try out:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...ike/index.html

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old June 29th, 2005, 22:43 Thread Starter
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Interesting opinion piece.

I think I would have given Chastain another chance, but it's entirely Greg Ryan's call, so what's with the rhetorical "who the hell is Greg Ryan"? Who the hell is Michael Silver, after all?

You'd think it was the first time a national team coach had ever retired an aging player!

It's not as if Ryan hadn't seen her play before. And it's not as if it's some kind of payback for being at odds with April Heinrichs; otherwise why welcome Tiffeny Milbrett back, as the article points out?

At least he had enough respect for her to fly to San Jose and take her out to dinner to break the news.
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